Monday, December 27, 2010

Militarism or Diplomacy?

Why is it that those whom I know who are most pro-military endeavors seem to be the least likely to support government efforts to alleviate poverty, to ameliorate power/financial class/opportunity & educational imbalances and to support reconciliation initiatives?

The correlation seems to occur far more often than is warranted by statistical coincidence. Is it also coincidental that so much of current wealth & political power are enmeshed with military power & the manufacturing and sale of armaments? Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times points out the widening chasm between military spending and better budgeting, here.

Proverbs clearly indicates that the wealthy find their refuge in their wealth: "The wealth of the rich is their fortress; the poverty of the poor is their ruin." (Prov. 10:15) The Hebrew word for fortress has military implications, too, and can also mean might, strength and fortifications (ramparts) of a town. Contrast this "strength" to the use of the same root word in Proverbs 14:26: "Fear of the LORD is a stronghold, a refuge for a man's children." (Tanakh)

Prov. 14:32 reads, "The wicked are overthrown by their evil-doing, but the righteous find refuge in their integrity." (cf., Psalm 52:7) The NT concept of being found "in Christ" has strong OT parallels to the Psalmists' and Proverbial understanding of refuge. Military images, such as those found in Ephesians, are replaced with weapons of truth, faith, the Word of God, righteousness, and the gospel of peace.

From my perspective on current events and scriptural studies, there seem to be strong indications that the hard work of developing healthy human relationships and shared community responsibility is easily deferred by most leaders and followers throughout history in favor of force, whether that force is evidenced in military power, academic/intellectual argumentation, facile rhetoric, gender or racial or ethnic domination, bullying or social ostracism, to give a few examples. The righteous are those who find their refuge in God, and whose lives evidence the integrity and holiness of God's ways.

Perhaps the name of this post might be, "Domination or Dominion?" Food for thought & prayer!

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